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Release No. 0456.10
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Office of Communications (202) 720-4623

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USDA Official Visits Maryland to Kick-off 3rd Annual Maryland Homegrown School Lunch Week

Event Highlights Efforts to Improve Child Nutrition

EDGEWOOD, Md., Sept. 10, 2010 – USDA's Deputy Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services Janey Thornton today helped kick-off the 3rd annual Maryland Homegrown School Lunch Week at Edgewood Elementary School, an initiative designed to help children learn where their food comes from and the lifelong benefits of a healthy diet. At today's event, Thornton highlighted the Obama Administration's priorities for improving school meals and advancing the health of our Nation's children.

"As schools across the country open we are reminded how important it is that our children be healthy and active, that they not go hungry, and that they have access to nutritious meals," said Thornton. "If we want our children fully prepared for a competitive world and global economy we need them to be well nourished, and active."

Thornton also highlighted USDA's Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative which seeks to create new economic opportunities, to promote local and regional food systems that help keep wealth in rural communities, and to encourage a national conversation about what we eat and where it comes from in order to benefit producers of all sizes. The effort builds on the 2008 Farm Bill, which provides for increases and flexibility for USDA programs in an effort to promote local foods, and is carried out by an inter-agency task force. Last year, USDA deployed a farm-to-school team to encourage school districts to purchase and serve local foods, and share what's working in communities around the country.

"Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food will expand a national conversation about the importance of where food comes from and how it gets to your plate," said Thornton. "All these initiatives create links between local farmers and school cafeterias, and provide students first-hand lessons in healthy eating and offer local producers new income opportunities."

Improving USDA's child nutrition programs on behalf of 32 million kids across the nation is a top priority of the Obama Administration. Strengthening the Child Nutrition Act, which authorizes USDA's child nutrition programs including the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs, is the legislative centerpiece of First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! campaign. This legislation will serve as a down payment in battling hunger and food insecurity while providing critical resources to raise a generation of healthy children. To learn more about the First Lady's Let's Move! campaign, visit www.LetsMove.gov.

FNS oversees the administration of 15 nutrition assistance programs, including the child nutrition programs, which touch the lives of one in four Americans over the course of a year. More information about FNS and its nutrition assistance programs is available at www.fns.usda.gov.

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